Nazarbayev tinkers with Kazakh parliament
In an unexpected move Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazerbayev, the man who has led the country since it split from the Soviet Union, has engineered an early parliamentary election. His ruling Nur Otan party has a monopoly of power in the Mazhilis lower house, but it has asked President Nazerbayev to dissolve parliament and allow an opposition to take seats. Kazakhstan has never held an election judged free and fair by international observers. A snap election has been expected since Nazerbayev won another five years as president in April, but not the proposed change in the electoral law. This would scrap the seven percent of the vote requirement for the constitution of a parliamentary party for the party coming second in the election.

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Police and protesters clash in Cairo’s Tahrir Square
Violent clashes have erupted between riot police and protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The unrest comes just days before an election that is supposed to mark a key step in Egypt’s transition to democracy. But the post-Mubarak reality has left many angry and disillusioned at the army’s dominance. Saturday’s disturbances followed Friday’s mass rally of mainly Islamist demonstrators, calling for Egypt’s military rulers to transfer power swiftly to a civilian government. Trouble flared on Saturday after security forces broke up a sit-in at the square. People injured during the uprising at the start of the year and relatives of those killed camped out to demand that those behind the violence be brought to justice. More than 80 people have been injured in the latest clashes and a number of arrests made. Egypt’s revolution looks far from over.

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Arab League deal not stopping killing in Syria
One week after Syria agreed to a plan by the Arab League under which it promised to pull its military from restive cities, twelve more civilians are reported to have been killed in Syria by government security forces, according to human rights observers. The deaths are said to have occurred in the capital Damascus, the southern Deraa region, Homs in the centre, and also in eastern Syria. Twelve civilian and eight soldiers’ deaths were reported on Tuesday. The Arab League plan included agreement by Damascus to set political prisoners free and start talks with the opposition, which wants to remove President Bashar al-Assad and introduce more democratic freedoms. In the Egyptian capital, Cairo, protesters accused a visiting Syrian delegation — ostensibly four members of the Syrian opposition — of working covertly for the Assad government. The delegation was in Egypt, to meet Arab League chief, Nabil Elaraby, as the regional body readies for an emergency meeting this Saturday to discuss the continued crackdown on protest in Syria. One of the protesters said they believed that the internal opposition negotiating with the regime was thereby legitimising it, while blood continues to be shed. He said: “The protesters demand that the case of Syria be sent to the United Nations, that international protection be given and a no-fly zone set up.” Events in Syria are difficult to verify independently because the government has barred most foreign journalists. Syrian activists put the number of civilians killed in the conflict above 4,000.

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Little Q3 growth in euro zone
The euro zone economy barely grew in the third quarter of this year with GDP expanding by just 0.2 percent from the previous three month period. That was because even though Germany and France posted solid growth the countries suffering most from the debt crisis performed much worse And economists said there is a grim outlook through to the end of the year, with that deepening debt crisis hitting investor sentiment and consumer confidence. “The key point is that this is all history,” Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, said. “Forward-looking indicators suggest that the euro-zone economy is likely to drop back into recession in the fourth-quarter and beyond.” Underlining that view, Germany’s ZEW institute reported that its economic sentiment index fell in November, below economists’ forecasts and sharply down on October’s figure. It said political and economic problems in Greece and Italy had increased uncertainty about the future. The German economy grew 0.5 percent in the July-September period; France, the euro zone’s second-biggest economy, expanded by 0.4 percent on the quarter, having contracted 0.1 percent in the previous three months.

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